Team(s): Mobil 1 HSV Racing
Team Principal: Ryan Walkinshaw
Chassis: Holden Commodore VF
Drivers’ Championships: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
Walkinshaw Racing was formed in 1990 and was initially run by driver Win Percy on behalf of Tom Walkinshaw Racing. The official factory racing team of Holden has become one of the biggest success stories in Australian sport.
After Tom Walkinshaw died in 2010 and the Walkinshaw family committed to retaining its Australian automotive and motorsport interests – the Holden Racing Team (HRT), Holden Specialist Vehicles and Walkinshaw Performance – his son, Ryan took the helm of the troubled flagship factory-backed Holden team, having not taken the championship since Mark Skaife won the last of his three consecutive titles for the team in 2002.
Walkinshaw signalled his intentions for 2014 investing heavily in the team and making some key personnel changes with the widely publicised hirings of former Red Bull Racing team principal Adrian Burgess as managing director, and former Ford Performance Racing engineering manager Mathew Nilsson as technical director.
Expanding to a four cars in 2014, the season didn’t go to plan with only the two HRT cars in the hands of Garth Tander and James Courtney remaining consistently competitive. In the customer cars, Nick Percat showed pace landing on the podium twice, but Tim Slade had a seriously unlucky year, failing to finish more than any other driver although the South Australian did land three podiums.
The team remained as a four car outfit in 2015, but after James Rosenberg returned his Racing Entitlement Contract (REC) to V8 Supercars at the season’s end, Percat made the switch to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, with Charlie Schwerkolt moving his #18 REC to the factory Holden team and bringing in driver Lee Holdsworth. 2015 became a season to forget for Walkinshaw. No major victories apart from James Courtney and co-driver Jack Perkins winning at the Gold Coast 600, not to mention a high attrition rate throughout the season.
Downsizing to just a two car operation in 2016, Walkinshaw Racing reverted to running solely as the Holden Racing Team, retaining its two driver line-up, Garth Tander and James Courtney for a sixth consecutive season, the longest serving driver line-up in the team’s history. Courtney was quick to succeed, winning the second race of the season in Adelaide. With no good results for a majority of the season, the team was under fire for under-performing. The Sandown 500 saw a change in luck when Tander pulled off a surprise victory, silencing the critics. Despite his win, the team announced that Tander would be replaced by Scott Pye in 2017.
Having endured a difficult campaign in 2016, Walkinshaw Racing was also hit by the news that it would be without factory backing in 2017 with Holden switching its support to Triple Eight Race Engineering.
2017 sees Holden Racing Team become Mobil 1 HSV Racing with James Courtney and Scott Pye flying the flag for Walkinshaw Racing. Despite no longer being the factory Holden squad, many faithful red-blooded supporters will still back the spiritual home of the red lion.